Shall I Compare Thee?

Posted at 2:49 pm December 17, 2007 by Suzanne Hall

 Zhen 12-12-07As the denning phase comes to a close, we have been looking back at the last few months to develop a more complete picture of the interactions between Zhen Zhen and her mother. It can be hard, in the moment, to answer questions like: what is this cub like? And, what is Bai Yun doing differently? Although we can get a flavor of the situation inside the den, when we look at the data we have collected we can really see the differences and similarities between this year and our previous years with cubs born.

We have been saying all along that this cub is different from the others, more quiet. Our data indicates we were right on with that assessment. Zhen did not emit the highest level of vocalization, the “cry,” throughout the denning phase, except on one day (day 4). Cries were recorded for Gao Gao’s other offspring in the first three weeks of life, especially with Mei Sheng (boys!). And the next highest intensity vocalization, the “squawk,” occurred much less frequently with Zhen than her siblings throughout the entire denning phase, too (scroll to bottom of page to see graph). She seems to have been more content from birth, either as a factor of her personality or a function of Bai Yun’s excellent maternal care.

Bai Yun was different this time, too. She left the den regularly at an earlier time than with Zhen’s siblings. She spent more time feeding in the second month postpartum than with Gao Gao’s other cubs. She more readily placed Zhen in contact with the ground than with other cubs (see graph below). All of which suggests one of two things: either this cub was more tolerant and allowed her mother more freedom, or Bai Yun was more competent and more efficient at placating her infant so that she had more time to focus on her own needs.

In a sense, our research efforts have mirrored Bai Yun’s maternal efforts over the years. Initially, we looked at every clue and all evidence we could find to assess Bai Yun’s reproductive status during estrus and pregnancy. We sweated every detail when she gave birth to Hua Mei. With time, our success has allowed us to pare down and strip away the non-essential, and we can focus our energy and resources on those aspects of her behavior and biology we know are most informative to help us answer whatever questions and concerns we have. Likewise, Bai Yun no longer seems to waste time on prolonged estruses, extending courtship dances with Gao Gao, or fumbling with finding the best to calm a restless infant. She too has stripped away the non-essential and is extremely efficient at getting the job done, no matter what it may be.

I am curious about the long-term ramifications of this. Young Hua Mei has already proven to be a successful breeder and mother. Will Su Lin outshine her someday? Will Zhen be the ultimate in panda breeding success stories? Will Bai Yun’s grandchildren show different skill sets as a result of their mother’s different backgrounds? It’s hard to know where the legacy of good maternal care comes to an end, but it will be interesting to wait and see.

Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician with the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Unit.

Scroll to the very bottom of this page to view Suzanne’s graphs.

 panda chart

 panda chart

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are currently closed. Pinging is not allowed.

57 Responses to “Shall I Compare Thee?”

  1. Margaret says:

    The latest video is ” too cute” is an understatement. It is amazing how a cub that is still walking very gingerly and not quite steady is able to attempt climbing logs at the same time. How different Bai Yun is from Lun Lun is also amazing. Lun would barely let Mei Lan climb anything and was very cautious about her walking. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Bai Yun who appears to ignore Zhen walking beside her on a log, and calmly continues eating. Since she is not in the shots of Zhen climbing and flipping off, it appears that Bai kept on eating. It is obviously tiring for Zhen’s tiny legs and she appears to relish in her accomplishment in a short rest on the log. TOO CUTE – off the cute meter.

  2. Angie says:

    Suzanne – I know this panda blog is extra work for you and the staff, but it really is awesome to read updates like these. Thanks!

  3. Margaret says:

    Very interesting observations Suzanne. Indeed we will have to wait for a few years to see the long term ramifications of the differences in mothering behavior of Bai Yun. If Bai Yun has another cub in two years, hopefully it will be a boy and more research and comparisons can be done. Since these are all offspring of the same sire, and they were not Bai Yun’s first cubs, it is fertile ground for research and comparison.

    Hopefully we will see how Mei Sheng’s behavior development impacts his breeding and the behavior of his offspring in the next coupld of years.

    Since he is apprehensive and cautious about new situations, as evidenced still by his reaction to his two environments so far at Wolong, and Shanghai, it will be interesting to see how he reacts to other pandas his age, especially the females chosen as his potential mates.

  4. Peggy says:

    Thank you Suzanne for the interesting update on the different babies and the way Bai Yun is different this time around. The graphs are great too. Can’t wait to see Zhen Zhen out with her Mom and how they will be in the inclosure. Bai Yun is such a great Mom and she certainly is special look at her 4 babies they are all doing great and pretty special too.

  5. TAMI MICHAUD says:

    I have no doubt that this little one will have personality plus. And will be the whiz cub of all cubs…..she’s cute,smart, special and ” precious” love that little bundle of fur…..

  6. gloria says:

    Thank you very much, Suzanne. Very interesting and educational post.

  7. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Suzanne – what a wealth of info you gave us today. I find it fascinating to read about the differences in Bai’s cubs. As you asked, is it Miss Z’s personality or Bai’s personality & mothering skills – it may be some of both. From what I’ve read papa Gao is a ” laid back” panda & Bai is efficient & has learned from raising her other cubs. As human mothers raise their kids the first born is usually overly protected & then by the time the 4th arrives mom knows what to expect. Though Bai’s taking Zhen out of the den so early is a puzzle. Let’s hope that Bai, Mei Xiang & LunLun have another cub so their raising can be compared. It’s impossible for you to compare your findings with China as their approach is so different.

    I’ve missed seeing Miss Z log climbing live but have watched her on the time lapse (thank you SDZ) & can’t believe what she’s up to while Bai doesn’t appear concerned. Once she got her back legs working she sure took off – seems to have mastered getting in & out of the den faster than Tai & Lani – the trees are next!!

  8. Catbelly says:

    Thank you so much for the updates! It’s wonderful to see this data, and fill in the blanks of all that we miss because we can’t see what is going on all the time. I marvel at the panda mom’s maternal instincts, and the comparisons of Bai Yun’s cubs. As much as they are unique, they share characteristics that make it easy to match them up with Bai and Gao. This little girl seems amazes me!

    Thanks for all that you do! You don’t know how much I anticipate and appreciate these updates.

  9. Carol says:

    I just love your blog posts, Suzanne, and those of all the wonderful Panda Staff! I also have noticed major differences in cub rearing, starting the summer Su Lin and Tai Shan were born, which was when I first became a pandaholic. There was such a striking difference in parenting styles between the two dams. As a result, I am really seeing the differences you mention in Bai’s behavior, how she is relaxed almost to the point of nonchalance about little Zhen Zhen. And Zhen is picking that up, she’s a very mellow, laid-back cub.

    It’s such a kick to watch them, I especially enjoy the evenings, when mama and baibee have very different agendas! Bai=let’s chill, ZoomZoom=I wanna party! So cute.

    Thanks so much for all the magic you do, Panda Staff!! Hope you all have the best Christmas ever, and all my fellow pandamaniacs, too! As politically incorrect as this is, I keep thinking about how spectacular Zhen Zhen would look in a big red bow, tee hee!

    Peace and Joy to all!!

  10. Candy in Iowa says:

    Great info, Suzanne! We pandaholics gobble this stuff up. Thanks so much for taking the time to give us another wonderful blog!

    It looks like Zhen was alot quieter and content. It is probaby due to a combination of her disposition and Bai’s excellent materal skills.

    Wishing all the staff at SDZ and all my fellow pandaholics a very blessed Christmas!! May we all have a wonderful year ahead of us!

  11. Paula says:

    Wonderful new video…I fear some people may not have seen it because although it’s at the top of the video list, there’s no picture, just one of those evil X’s in a box. Calling everyone in the IT department!

    Just WOW on how little Zhen is moving about – at one point in the video she tried to bug her mom and WHAP! down with the big bear paw. And yep, Margaret #1 – she is walking very carefully. TOO cute how she picks each front paw up very high to take the next step. The part of the video where she is sitting on the log – I swear she is posing for the camera. You can quit trying, Zhen, you’re already destined for calendars, mugs and everything else Panda!

    A QUIET baby? Can I get a ” hell yea” on that…and would it be so odd that mothers with several births under their belt would be more laid-back with their later offspring, as is likely demostrated with humans? Very interesting questions, Suzanne!

  12. Lee in Vancouver says:

    What interesting data. I thought Zhen was more placid but of course I didn’t know for sure. We (Panda fans) feel we know so much but of course we are just aware of about 5% of the total available to the staff who are with them all the time.

    Anyways what I would like to know is since Bai has been such a great breeder since she has been in San Diego has there been any discussions regarding her staying on after the weening process with Zhen is completed. I know her loan period would be up by then but is she still able to have more babies and would they want her to to have more with Gao Gao. They just seem to know what to do and when to do it. Would more offspring by them be good or bad for the future of the pandas.

    Do you take donations for the ” panda fee” you pay China each year or does this money come out of the zoos operating expenses? If these questions are too personal just ignore them.

    Thanks for listening.

    Moderator’s note: The money raised through admissions and other sales at the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park support costs associated with our conservation programs like pandas. We do also take donations to support these costs.

  13. Leslie says:

    Thank you so much for adding such intelligent commentary to my ” observations” ….I check in often and am just tickled at Zhen’s attempts at getting around. Mei Sheng seems like such a sweet mother and at other times is totally devoted to her eating. So funny. I wonder in a ” natural” environment if she would let her baby get that far away from her? Just curious. Thanks for keeping us updated. I feel as though Zhen is my own personal panda….

  14. Joy :) says:

    It’s amazing– Just How interesting giant pandas are! … AND cute!!

    Zhen is adorable in her picture here with this blog. And, it’s true, a picture can say so much. Zhen appears to be an angel, but when you look closer, you see that she can also have fun and get dirty.

    Thanks for sharing your research with us. It’s nice to know that during those weeks of saying, ” She’s much quieter than her siblings” we were right. And it’s a testament to the fact that these animals can learn and remember what they learned long-term. Bai Yun knows what works and what doesn’t and she has made her life easier by doing what she knows works. It’s just like human mothers. But, as we all know, each baby is unique and just when you think you have them ” figured out” they throw you a ” curve ball” and you have to adjust. I am confident that Bai Yun will adjust her mothering style as needed for little Zhen. Best of luck to her as she continues to be Super Panda Mom!

    Love, Joy 🙂

  15. Claudia says:

    Wow Suzanne, Thank you so much for bringing us up to date. Blessings, Claudia

  16. Kristi in Dallas says:

    I was wondering if it would be possible to include a graph with Hua Mei compared to Gao Gao’s offspring. It does seem that Bai Yun has relaxed a bit about rearing a yearling with Zhen Zhen. I also like to think that our little Zhen Zhen is just a happy and contented little girl. It’s really interesting to see the data correlating the time Bai Yun held Mei Sheng and Su Lin. They results are almost identical. The correlation between the vocalizations and time being held by mom is a testament to what a wonderful mother Bai has become.

    Where would Hua Mei fall into this graph? I’m wondering since Hua Mei is Bai’s first born.

    Also, does Wolong have any data on Hua Mei’s cubs? I was thinking it may be a bit truncated since they wean the cubs much earlier than our zoos. The data makes me wonder just how Hua Mei would compare to her mom.

  17. C-W-T says:

    My fellow panda fans, go to google search ” special news room ” of Michigan State University, there are journals, photos, and videos of a PhD candidate who is now staying in the mountains of China to ” catch” pandas in China. You can even send your questions to their Panda Team

  18. Loriann says:

    What an interesting blog- thanks, Suzanne! This morning about 8:39, San Diego time, I managed to get a couple of great, color screen captures of Zhen Zhen and Bai Yun cuddling/nursing. 🙂 It made my day!

  19. Marie says:

    Thank you Suzanne. I definitely noticed a difference in Bai Yun’s behavior with this baby. I was thinking that it was strickly her but you are right, of course. It could definitely be that baby’s behavior.

    What amazes me today, is ZhenZhen’s determination to get up on the logs and her trying to climb that tree. It is amazing. This instinct is so strong in them when they are born 🙂

  20. Kris says:

    Yep, she will be up in the trees before you know it! I watched her this morning, Little Miss Z, as she attempted to climb a BIG tree! Couldn’t quite get her butt off the ground, though. Maybe she doesn’t yet have the upper torso strength necessary to dig her claws in and defy gravity. She sure gave it the old college try though, and wound up taking a couple spills. Then she nonchalantly wandered off to find something new to explore. She is just a joy to watch. I REALLY hope she is able to be on exhibit next month when I come to visit. Thanks for all the updates!! 🙂

  21. Lainie says:

    Watching Bai and Zhen on panda cam together, really is so sweet, and it just amazes me what a fantastic

    mother Bai is !! I missed Mei Shengs first years, but with Su Lin, and Zhen, it really just brings a tear to your

    eye watching her with her babies. =)

  22. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    There goes little miss ZZ showing her propensity for climbing! She is standing on the trunk of one of the climbing trees and looking up it like ” why can’t I get up there??” Watch carefully…it won’t be long before she joins big sister!

    She has grown so fast and she is getting more fun to watch as she is getting more active…..I like seeing her out in the sunshine. It does my heart good. I wish I had a trip planned to San Diego int he near future so that I could come see her in person….she be all grown up and out of this ” cute” phase by the time I get to ya again! WAH!! Oh well..it will still be sucha pleasure to see her what I can get there…

    Merry Christmas everyone!! God Bless you all!!

  23. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    What is the wooden box that Bai and ZZ are ” playing” in?? I’ve seen this elsewhere too on the panda cam….

  24. Pamela G says:

    I just had to write another Panda Claws story for Christmas……this one is very long. My apologies for taking up so much space. And the best, happiest, and most peaceful of Holidays to you all!!

    THE PANDAS’ BIG CHRISTMAS SURPRISE

    “Twas the first of December at the Atlanta Zoo

    And Lun Lun was pacing, not eating her ‘boo!

    “What’s wrong there, my sweetheart?” Called Yang from next door,

    “Did Mei Lan chew your ears again, dear? Are they sore?”

    “Yang Yang, it’s awful!” She called in reply,

    “But we can’t talk now: It will make Lani cry.”

    So later that day while Mei Lan was asleep,

    Lun Lun talked to Yang as she fought not to weep,

    “I just got a message, and oh Yang! I fear

    That we can’t celebrate Panda Christmas this year!”

    ” What! Why?!” Yang Yang barked. “This is worse than I feared!”

    “It’s worse than that, Yang: Panda Claws disappeared!”

    They sat close together as she told him how

    She had gotten a message from Bai and Gao Gao.

    A bird had been sent from far off Panda Home

    To find Panda Claws or to see where he’d gone.

    The world had been searched: Panda Claws was not there.

    It was like he had disappeared into thin air!

    “We must notify Le Le, Ya, Tian, Mei and Tai,

    We can’t have the party if the bears can not fly.”

    “Leave it to me,” Yang Yang said as he left.

    “I’ll send birds out now. And don’t look so bereft.”

    But Yang was sad too: Panda Magic is rare,

    And old Panda Claws was the one Panda bear

    With enough Panda Magic to fly over Earth

    And take other bears with him, a gift of great worth.

    The word spread to Memphis. The news was so bad

    That Le Le and Ya Ya grew quiet and sad.

    But at National Zoo was where it hurt the most

    For the Tians had prepared to be hostess and host.

    They had gathered the best, most delicious bamboo

    And were ready to show their new home at the zoo:

    The new trees, the waterfall, spacious outdoors,

    And Tai Shan had practiced conducting the tours.

    He’d been saving his appowz so that he could share

    With Su Lin and Lani. That’s hard for a bear!

    Now the party was ruined. Mei Xiang sat and cried.

    And Tian paced and worried. Had Panda Claws..died?

    **********************************************

    Then, just before Christmas, a small bird came down

    And landed where Mei Xiang sat slumped on the ground.

    “There’s news from your Homeland,” The tiny bird cheeped,

    “I’m to tell you that on Christmas Eve you may sleep,

    “But just until midnight. Then you’ll hear a bleat.

    “And you must go out to get your Christmas treat.”

    “Then you found Panda Claws?” Mei Xiang rose with a cry.

    “I can tell you no more,” said the bird. “I must fly.”

    *********************************************

    Well! I guess that I really don’t have to tell you

    On Christmas Eve, no Pandas slept at THAT zoo!

    Tian, Mei, and Tai lay alone in their beds

    With Hope in their hearts but with doubt in their heads.

    Then, just after midnight, they heard a soft bleat.

    Doors magically opened. They rose to their feet.

    Outside, it was snowing. The moon shining down

    Gave a lovely blue glow to the snow on the ground.

    By the light of the moon the three Pandas could see

    A very large box standing near a big tree.

    It had a big tag, which Tian took in his paws

    And read, “Merry Christmas! From the NEW Panda Claws!”

    The box disappeared, and standing right there

    Were all the American zoos’ Panda bears!

    There were Lun Lun and Yang Yang and Little Mei Lan

    Who pranced over to kiss an embarassed Tai Shan!

    Le Le and Ya Ya came forth side by side.

    They saw the deep snow, and their eyes grew quite wide!

    “Oh my! What’s this white stuff?” Su Lin ran ahead

    And batted at snowflakes that fell on her head.

    Then Bai Yun approached with a queen’s stately grace.

    Beside her was Gao Gao, a smile on his face.

    Behind them a figure in bright red appeared

    With Zhen Zhen all tangled in his long, fake beard.

    “Hold still, little sister!” He laughed merrily

    And tugged off the beard. “Merry Christmas! It’s me!”

    “MEI SHENG!!” cried Tai Shan, “Are you Panda Claws now?”

    “I am for a day.” Mei Sheng said with a bow.

    “See, with so many Pandas in so many lands,

    “There’s just too much work for old Panda Claw’s hands.

    “So he came in secret to me in Wolong

    “And gave me some magic from his Christmas Song.

    “Now he travels the East while I cover the West.

    “Since my family is here, we both thought that was best.”

    Then Panda Claws Sheng smiled and opened his bag.

    “Let’s open some presents!” He read the first tag.

    He handed out scent blocks and toys, treats and fruits,

    Panda bread, crackers, and young bamboo shoots.

    The bears ate and played, but the biggest treat, though,

    (At least for the bears from warm states) was the snow!

    Yang, Tian, and Le made a big Panda slide.

    Then flopped on their bellies, and downhill they’d glide!

    Bai Yun and Ya Ya rolled around in deep snow

    And admired how the moon on their fur made them glow.

    Tai Shan took the young ones and showed them around,

    Then they played hide and seek with the snow falling down.

    Mei Lan climbed way up to the top of a tree.

    Zhen Zhen fell in a snowdrift where no one could see.

    Su Lin, who was ” It,” dug her out of the snow,

    Then tagged Tai on his grate, where she knew he would go.

    Gao Gao made a snowball and swatted it high

    And hit Mei Xiang, who laughed and threw one at Tai!

    So, bleats and chirps rang through the bright, moonlit night,

    As the Pandas chose sides for a huge snowball fight!

    Then, laughing and panting, they sat down to talk.

    Mei Xiang and Tian Tian served their best bamboo stalks.

    As the bears munched and gossiped, Mei Sheng sniffed the wind,

    “It is late,” he announced. “We must fly soon, my friends.”

    “Our son has grown up.” Bai Yun whispered to Gao.

    “Yes,” Gao Gao was proud. “He’s the world’s Panda now.”

    They began their good-byes as Mei Sheng Claws arose

    And put each bear to sleep with a tap on the nose.

    Then, as Panda Claws had in the previous year,

    Mei Sheng whispered into each sleeping bear’s ear.

    He whispered to Lun Lun, to Yang Yang and Tian,

    Spoke briefly to Le Le and Tai Shan and then

    To Mei Xiang and Ya Ya he told the same tale,

    “A new cub next year,” he said, grinning, “A male.”

    To Mei Lan he said, “Little Lani, you’ve grown.

    “Soon you’ll be a big girl with a den of your own.”

    He stopped by Gao Gao and whispered for a while:

    Something about girl bears; It made Gao Gao smile.

    When he came to Bai Yun, he kissed her tenderly,

    “Love from Hua Mei, Su Lin, little Zhen Zhen, and me.”

    He barked thirteen times, touched his paw to his nose,

    And out of the snow a huge whirlwind arose.

    It lifted the bears, blowing higher and strong,

    Disappeared in the sky, and the Pandas were gone.

    And on Christmas Day at the National Zoo

    Brian watched the bears as they ate their bamboo.

    He said, “Brenda, I know this sounds awfully weird,

    But I could have sworn Tai Shan was wearing a beard!”

    Tai Shan laughed. “Some day I’ll be Panda Claws, too!”

    Panda Blessings to all! Merry Christmas to you.

    Moderator’s note: It wouldn’t be the holidays without news of Panda Claws! To read last year’s poem, “A Christmas Visit from Panda Claws” see comment #2 of the Good Benefits blog: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/wordpress/default/good-benefits/

  25. patricia says:

    dear suzanne, according to my records, i took my first photos of su lin on december 13, 2005. i’m wondering why bai yun and zhen zhen are in a private outdoor area and when they will be on public exhibition. i’d think it would be soon! can’t wait!!! patricia

  26. patricia says:

    it’s me (#25) again. i just wanted to thank pamela g for that beautiful poem. it made me cry when mei sheng claws appeared. thanks!

  27. barbara says:

    Thank You Pamela G you just made my day, this is wonderful.

  28. Widget says:

    Oh My Pamela G! I don’t know why but about half way thru your poem I had tears in my eyes. It’s is just so magnificent! Just a wonderful story for all. And a wonderful surprise with Mei Sheng as the new Panda Claws. You capture such wonderul thoughts and it just made me cry. I think because it seems so real. You are truly a great writer. Thank you and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  29. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Pamela – Thanks so much for the news about Panda Claws – funny how I can picture all our pandas acting the way you described.

    Merry Christmas to all the panda loves & the SDZ staff.

  30. Cheryl says:

    Very creative poem, Pamela! Thanks for sharing..Happy Holidays to all!

  31. Joy in KS says:

    OOh how sweet it is to see video of our precious Zhen walking, and starting to climb! I agree with everyone else who commented; her careful pawsteps are soooo cute. Creeping along the logs, she resembles a large, cute, fuzzy caterpillar! 🙂

  32. Dannie says:

    Oh, my gosh, Pamela G, what a wonderful poem! It kept me sitting on the edge of my seat til the end. You are very talented. I also thought the tears and sniffles were over for me since reading Lisa’s last (hopefully not THE last) installment of her journey with Mei Sheng to China. But there were a few with your poem, too. Thank you! And isn’t that Zhen Zhen adorable? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

  33. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    Thank you Pamela G (#24)…Oh my GOSH!! I can’t see! My cpontacts are floating more that usual!! My co-workers are again going to wonder why I am blubbering!! This is so BEAUTIFUL!! Like Lisa, you should make this a book and illustrate it – it would be WONDERFUL!! I would buy several copies and maybe these could be fund raisers for the zoo – sell them in the gift shop. I really think it should be pursued!

    Thank you so much for Panda Claws Sheng!! I have to go blow my nose now!! Sniff, sniff, sniff

  34. Holly in NY says:

    Once again, Pamela, my friend. . . FABULOUS!! The moderator is right – it simply would NOT be Christmas without Panda Claws!! Much love to all and a Merry Christmas.

  35. Margaret says:

    Pamela G, #24, length is great to get such a beautiful message across. I can’t stop the tears!

    It warms all our hearts, knowing that although separated by many miles, and continents, Mei Sheng still has SDZ and USA still strong in his heart.

    I wish that these special songs, poems, and accounts of travel with Lisa, could be compiled with the highlights of Mei Sheng’s first 4 years at SDZ into a special memory of Mei Sheng. It would be a great momento, and as Lee, #12, asked, it might be a great fund raiser to help raise additional funds to keep Bai Yun at SDZ once her mothering years have ended. She is a special mom, and deserves to stay where she is a well loved part of the ” family,” and has done so much spectatular breeding and contributions to the panda gene pool for future generations.

  36. Laine says:

    #24 Oh my god. that was too cute. Mei Sheng was the perfect Panda Claws. I wish I could have gone to the party. 😉

  37. Julie from NJ says:

    #24 Pamela G: many thanks fot this years’ rendition of Panda Claws; it is truly delightful…! I know all pandaholics can just picture all the bears together as one happy family celebrating the joys of the season, and how touching it was to have Mei Sheng come back ‘home’ as Panda Claws. A lovely poem, which, of course, made me cry, but that’s a small price to pay for reading such a charming story, that could definitely be turned into a children’s Christmas book…!

    May the joys of the season be shared by all the staff at the SDZ and your families, and to all pandaholics everywhere. Merry Christmas to all!

  38. Darlene says:

    Pamela, you are truly talented… What a wonderful poem, I sentiment all the comments before mine, how truly touching!! thankyou so very much….. And what a perfect Panda Claws you picked, our boy Mei….. Wonder if he has had a chance to play in any snow yet?

    I saw my first play bout with Zhen and Bai today, it was wonderful, she is such a little doll. Climbing on her Mom, and Bai had all 4 legs up just kind of holding her on her stomach while she lied on her back.. Just too too cute.

    I think that Bai is more comfortable leaving baby more often as she is so trusting of her surroundings and of all of her keepers. She knows that her cub will always be in good hands even if she slips out for a break. Just goes to show what a fantastic job everyone at SDZ does do… Thankyou to all of you and may you all have a wonderful Holiday Season….

  39. Kris says:

    #24 Pamela,

    I agree it is a wonderful poem and would make a great book – complete with awesome panda illustrations, of course!! Sheng would make a great Panda Claws!! Creative and knowledgable bloggers on here…

  40. Cheryl says:

    Oh Pamela – what a wonderful, magnificent poem – and when Mei Sheng appeared as Santa Claws – I just lost it… it is just so touching. And it’s true – I can picture everything in my mind so vividly! You are amazing – thank you so much for sharing – and I hope you have a wonderful holiday and joyous New Year!

  41. Donna says:

    I am enjoying Miss Z so much . . . . I say Put a Fence Around Those Darned Trees. I can’t stand it when the cubs disappear up the tress.

  42. Bobbie Wood says:

    Dear Pamela G,

    Thank You for the Neatest Christmas Tale ever!!! Bless You!!! When my Grands ask to hear The Night Before Christmas this year, Your version will be read to them!

    Suzanne, Thank you for your new update! The work you all are doing is amazing! All we have to do is watch the pandas and we know how fortunate we are to have you all caring for the pandas.

    Sincerely,

    Bobbie Wood

  43. panda fan says:

    I think it would be cruel to try to keep Zhen Zhen out of the trees. its what the pandas are supposed to do, after all… climb.

  44. Margaret says:

    Thanks for the link, Moderator #24, to an adorable picture of Mei Sheng playing in the snow that accompanies the Dec 15, 2006 article with last year’s Panda Claws poem. In 2007, hopefully he will be playing a lot in real snow! Isn’t it amazing how much things change in a one year?

  45. Margaret says:

    I have some questions about panda cubs.

    1. I read in the NZP panda exhibit that all pandas are microchipped at some point to identify them all their life. How old does a cub have to be before you can implant their microchip?

    2. When Zhen starts climbing trees, will Su Lin be able to see her up in the trees? If so, I wonder what each of their reactions will be. I recall reading about Mei Sheng leaning way out in a tree to see the other panda high up. I wonder if Su Lin will do the same, since she is accustomed to seeing and conversing with her brother way up in the air. She is bound to notice that it is a much smaller animal, a tiny cub.

    3. How far can pandas smell different panda’s scent? From what has been written in the past few weeks, Su Lin can hear new sounds coming from where Bai and Zhen are. Can she also smell them? If so, I wonder at what point she will try to figure out who the new ” kid” on the ” block” is? It will be interesting to hear if Zhen vocalizes when she sees Su Lin in the trees, or if she maintains her quiet laid-back character. It will be a new experience for Su Lin since she will be the larger and older of the cubs.

  46. Helen Rainier says:

    Pamela, #24 — What an absolutely beautiful and enchanting Christmas poem. I am so envious of your writing creativity.

    I agree with several other commenters — it would be a wonderful way to raise money for pandas if you and the SDZ could make an agreement to copywrite and publish your Panda Poems. I would definitely buy it — and if it could be illustrated with photos of all of our beautiful pandas that would only enhance its beauty and value. Perhaps this is something that all of our American zoos with pandas would be willing to cooperate with — they could each offer it on their websites as a way to contribute to the overall conservation efforts for pandas not only here but also in their Chinese homeland.

    Thank you Pamela for a beautiful Christmas gift!

  47. Barbara in Midwest says:

    Thank you Pamela G.! In my job I do a lot of writing and publish newsletters, etc. But I couldn’t compose prose such as that beautiful poem. You have a gift. And you managed to include everything!

    Merry Christmas and blessings in 2008 to all at SDZ (especially the Panda Team)!

  48. Stacy says:

    Thank you so much for the interesting comparison, Suzanne. It’s so fascinating to see the individual cubs and their similarities/differences. I appreciate the time you put into educating us!

    And Pam. Made me tear up at work again. Thank you so much for the beautiful Cwispmoss story.

    I hope all the wonderful panda fans out there have a wonderful holiday and New Year!

  49. Connie in Colorado says:

    Thank you Suzanne for a great update and information on this new Precious baby! Your write ups are always a joy to read.

    And to Pam G…..bless you for such a beautifully written poem about all of our beloved US pandas! I had tears and chills and smiles and laughs! Thank you so much!

  50. MustLovePandas says:

    Pam, what a wonderful, wonderful poem/story! I gasped out loud when Mei Sheng appeared as Panda Claws… you have an incredible gift with words and creating amazing visuals. Thank you so much for giving this to us. Mewwy Cwisp Moss to you!

  51. Catbelly says:

    Pam G….I’m proud to call you friend.

  52. Pamela G says:

    My thanks to you all for your kind and generous words. There were so many things I wanted to put into the 2007 Panda Claws story: Tai smooshing one of his appowz to make appowsauce for Zoom Zoom, The youngsters building a snowbear to be discovered by the NZ camera operator on Christmas morning (How about that, Angela?), Mei Sheng telling the American bears about the Austrian, Spanish, and Mexican Pandas,….but the poem was already so long that there just wasn’t room. Maybe next year!

    And Catbelly, my dear Panda pal….next time, I buy lunch!

    Wishing you all Sweet Panda Dreams for Christmas Eve,

    Pam G.

  53. Lynne says:

    Dearest Pam, I am not at all surprised your poem has evoked tears….always do for me….thank you for another treasure.

  54. Paula says:

    I love reading about the Pandas and viewing them on the webcam. I’m planning a trip to see them in the next year. I also love reading about the scientific studies you all have been doing. It’s a lot of work on your part to share the Pandas on the internet, but from where I’m sitting, well worth it.

    Thanks again

    Tucson, Arizona

  55. AC in NYC says:

    Suzanne, thank you very much for posting this fasincating discovery. very interesting.

    #24 Pamela, you write so well. I can see all the pandas together at NZ having fun. Wonderful ! beautiful ! thanks.

  56. Diana S. says:

    Thank you Suzanne for your updates. And thank you Pamela G. for the Christmas story of our beloved pandas. It’s beautiful!! Thank you moderator for the link to last years which I had not seen.

    Merry Christmas to everyone at SDZ and all pandaholics everywhere!!

  57. Frances in NY says:

    I just had the opportunity to read both the Panda Claws stories–thank you , Pamela, and Happy Holidays, all!